"I feel like we almost just gave it to them," Barkley said. "We just gave that game over to them. They played well, but there were times where we could have definitely just taken it away."
Barkley is putting a lot of this loss on his team, as opposed to ASU's performance. By taking ownership of the loss as a captain and starting quarterback, a lot of that blame would lie personally on him. While Kiffin said in a Sunday conference call that no blame should be put on his signalcaller, Barkley is mature enough to handle the blame and deflect from the mistakes of his teammates. It could serve as good motivation for the Trojans leading into the final two-thirds of a season with a schedule that includes much tougher opponents than this ASU team.
"Obviously this is the first time that we were really challenged, we were in a hostile environment," Chris Galippo said.
The environment Saturday was truly unique-and memorable. But if you were a player, it was probably a bit intimidating. Tack on the fact that six true freshmen saw the field in J.R. Tavai, Marqise Lee, Marcus Martin, Tre Madden, Amir Carlisle and (early enrollee) Andre Heidari and it's no doubt that these Trojans felt challenged, as Galippo said.
"We're a young team, I think we started five, count the kicker, six freshmen," Kiffin said.
Those six athletes (see above) have barely adjusted to the college level (only Lee, Heidari and Martin played a majority of the time in the first three games). You can't expect a player that is months out of high school to be able to perform at such a high level in such an environment as Sun Devil Stadium. That young group doesn't even include the slew of redshirt freshmen that played, who had only mentally prepared for such a road test. And to add in the craziness of the ASU fans, the unusual weather and all the emotions, one has to give credit to these freshmen who did a lot, despite knowing a little.
"I don't think so, I trust their playcalling and that same play we kept running over and over again was working. I trust them," Barkley said.
A lot can be said about Coach Lane Kiffin's playcalling after the ASU game, but Barkley won't be one of those who speaks up. Two things emerge off the bat from this quote. First, Barkley genuinely does seem to trust Lane Kiffin and believes that his head coach has his best interests in mind. Secondly, if Barkley were to say otherwise, any possible whiff of distrust would be caught by the media which could put a potentially devastating spin on the Trojans' remaining two-thirds of a season.
"I was extremely proud of our team in the third quarter," Kiffin said.
The coach was surprisingly positive at the postgame press conference. It was telling that Kiffin oozed out any optimism from a game most would say was disappointing. Kiffin is clearly invested in this team and knows if he presents a poor image or a pessimistic attitude, his players will feed off it and get dejected.
"We're 3 and 1. The season is not over," Kiffin said.
Despite the fans allegiances wavering, these players and this coach is not down in the dumps about one loss.
"Despite any mistakes, bad plays, bad games or losing.... the Trojans are Still on the verge to greatness!!! #fighton," D.J. Morgan said, via Twitter.
Morgan was a non-factor in the ASU game, in which Marc Tyler, Amir Carlisle, Curtis McNeal and Dillon Baxter played at tailback. But Morgan's positive outlook is encouraging for the Trojans, knowing that he still sees this team as talented and one that can put a loss like this behind them.
"That one hurt... Good game by ASU. time to bounce back," Devon Kennard said, via Twitter.
The loss might have hurt Kennard more than others, who was offered to play at ASU and is a native of Phoenix, Ariz. But Kennard didn't have the game he wanted, nor were any members of the defensive line as productive as they had been in the three previous games. Kennard, however, is one who handles adversity quite well and will undoubtedly bounce back.
"I only know how to play the game one way, physical. We'll be alright," T.J. McDonald said, via Twitter.
McDonald is referring to the personal fouls he received, that cost the Trojans 45 yards. But Lane Kiffin is reaching out to officials regarding the fouls, as he said Sunday in the conference call. McDonald can't get too discouraged for being physical, because the opposite effort would set USC's defense back even further than where they are currently.
"We gave a great effort today. It just didn't go our way," Amir Carlisle said.
If Carlisle hadn't gotten hurt early in the ASU game, he could have given an incredible effort. Kiffin said quite a few plays were designed for Carlisle's explosiveness, but then he went down and McNeal replaced him. After the game Carlisle said that his ankle is fine.
"Just watch the film, work on our ball security, that's all we can do is protect the ball," Kalil said.
"Watch this film [and] put it all behind we [still] have a season to play," safety Demetrius Wright, via Twitter.
Kalil and Wright are talking about how the Trojans can overcome this loss. USC has a lot to learn after being exposed by the Sun Devils Saturday. By looking at the film and analyzing their errors, they can see their room for improvement is large. Kalil's focus on ball security is significant, as the Trojans fumbled three times in the game. And Wright's comment that there are still eight games that remain is not only true, it must now become the focus of this football team, rather than its past loss.